Cat Johnson Braves Doll Lil’s Word Association Challenge!

Guests »

Cat Johnson Braves Doll Lil’s Word Association Challenge!

August 7, 2013 – 12:48 am | One Comment

I’m back from vacation and ready to get down and dirty finding new free and amazingly bargained books for you! But first this week I have something special. I convinced super hot and crazy talented …

Read the full story »
Home » Authors, Doll KittNLuv, Doll Noa, Eloisa James, Features, Giveaways, Month of Love, Reviewers, Reviews

Month of Love Two Doll Series Review & Giveaway: Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James

Submitted by on February 8, 2011 – 4:07 amOne Comment
*Giveaway Now Closed*

I (Kitt) learned about The Desperate Duchesses from my wonderful friend ;) and fellow PBD Doll Noa. She insisted that I read it after I read my first Eloisa James novel, . I figured since she’s the one who got me into this series, then she could do the review with me because we haven’t had the chance to talk it over yet. Warning: Review contains slight spoilers to future books after Desperate Duchesses.

[Book 1]

Welcome to a world of reckless sensuality and glittering sophistication . . . of dangerously handsome gentlemen and young ladies longing to gain a title . . . of games played for high stakes, including—on occasion—a lady’s virtue.

A marquess’s sheltered only daughter, Lady Roberta St. Giles falls in love with a man she glimpses across a crowded ballroom: a duke, a game player of consummate skill, a notorious rakehell who shows no interest in marriage—until he lays eyes on Roberta.

Yet the Earl of Gryffyn knows too well that the price required to gain a coronet is often too high. Damon Reeve, the earl, is determined to protect the exquisite Roberta from chasing after the wrong destiny.

Can Damon entice her into a high-stakes game of his own, even if his heart is likely to be lost in the venture?

Kitt: As Desperate Duchesses is the first in the series, we spent a great deal of time learning who all the players were. I was surprised to see that this edition wasn’t about a Duchess at all, but that instead we only got to ‘meet’ them. I do like though, how Ms. James has taken the Georgian period – with its naughtier ideas and fascination with chess- mixed it with our Desperate Housewives to create a very amusing and entertaining read with Shakespearean twists.

Noa: Kitt, first of all, thank you for including me in this review – it is always my pleasure to introduce someone else to a book addiction *insert evil laugh here*

Kitt: *shoots daggers at Noa* Noa here is responsible for most of my ‘TBR’ woes! When ever I think I’ve caught up, I get an email from her saying “but oh, did I tell you about this author… or this book…” *sigh*

Noa: Tee hee…

The Desperate Duchesses (I love the Desperate Housewives idea… ) series was really quite the departure for Eloisa James since most of her books are set in a later period – around 50-100 years later and it was really interesting to see how that affected the characters and the stories.

Eloisa’s stories are always fun, but I think that in this series she took it to a different level – not more or less, just different. Like you, I was surprised when I started reading the first book – Desperate Duchesses and didn’t really understand who the heroine was until a bit later in the story. But I did know this was a series in advance so I suppose it was to be expected that the characters would all be introduced.

So, lets talk characters – Roberta, Damon, Jemma, Elijah, Villiers….. what did you think of them all?

Kitt: The characters are really phenomenal. Ms. James has this way of taking you along for the emotional roller coaster that her characters are strapped into. My favorites by far are the flamboyant, intelligent, and seemingly fearless Jemma, Duchess of Beaumont and the dark, ruthless, and vastly intriguing Duke of Villiers.

I think my least favorite Duchess, and book for that matter, in this series is Poppy, the Duchess of Fletcher, in her book An Affair Before Christmas. I just don’t think her anger at Fletch was justified. He was crucified and scorned by her for just wanting to bed her, his own wife! She made him feel dirty and cheap, punishing him. While I did get her side – with her naivete because of her mother – I just felt so bad for Fletch, he loved her so much and just wanted make her happy.

[Book 2]

Magic under the mistletoe . . .

One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton . . . but behind closed doors the spark of their love affair has burned out.

Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride’s delectable affections . . . and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.

Who were your favorites.. and not so favorites?

Noa: Duh! Villiers! Love him! I really enjoyed seeing him change and evolve as the books progressed and yet, still manage to stay the same charming cynical Villiers. Jemma, Harriet, Isidore, Eleanor and Roberta – each had her own special something…but like you – I found Poppy to be extremely annoying. An Affair Before Christmas was definitely my least favorite book in the series. Poppy was just so uptight. As for favorite heroine? Definitely Eleanor (A Duke of Her Own). I like a heroine with a sense of humor and that bit of sarcasm. We’ll get to that book a bit later though… ;)

Looking at Desperate Duchesses, I think my main disappointment was that I didn’t have quite as much of a story between Roberta and Damon. Introducing all the characters, getting Jemma and Elijah’s back story – took away from the main storyline. Maybe if I had all the books sitting in front of me at the time I wouldn’t have minded as much, but reading it as a standalone book when it first came out, I really wanted more of the main characters.

An Affair Before Christmas almost made me give up on the series – but I really like Eloisa James’ books so I read Duchess by Night, which brought the series back to where it needed to go. I enjoyed seeing Harriet find herself and escape the title. Plus, Lord Strange was just so….well, Strange, but in a very good way ;)

[Book 3]

A Mischievous Charade . . .

Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is tired of her title and the responsibilities that come along with it. Enough with proper tea parties and elegant balls; what Harriet really wants is to attend an outrageous soiree where she can unleash her wildest whims and desires. But to attend such an event—especially if the event in question is Lord Justinian Strange’s rollicking fete, filled with noble rogues and rotters, risqué ladies and illicit lovers—would be certain scandal. That’s why she must disguise herself . . .

Looking forward to a night of uninhibited pleasure, Lord Strange is shocked to discover that beneath the clothes of a no-good rake is the most beautiful woman in the room. Why is a woman like her risking her reputation at his notorious affair? And can he possibly entice her to stay . . . forever?

What did you think of Duchess by Night?

Kitt: Truthfully? If it wasn’t for my fascination with this time period (not to mention the Duke of Villiers ;)), like you, I probably wouldn’t have continued after reading An Affair Before Christmas, but pure intrigue kept me going. Oh! Was that the best idea!

Like you mention, Duchess by Night got this series back on track. Watching Strange struggle with desiring a man was unbelievably funny and despite Harriot masquerading as “Harry” for a strong portion of the book, it turned out to be really sexy witch I think is testament to Ms. James’ writing.

Noa: *nods* Loved it! Scene with stable boy was priceless! And who knew fencing could be so very…passionate.

Kitt: Exactly! And while I did really like Duchess by Night, one of the best parts of the book came near the end and set the next book, When the Duke Returns, in motion. Isidore waited twelve long years for her husbands return to England. TWELVE! With NO consummation! That’s one devoted Duchess. Though, almost all the laugh-out-loud moments came from both Isidore’s and Simeon’s witty inner dialogue – along with what their intentions and motivations were – instead of being between characters, their interactions completely made up for it in the most sweetest and endearing ways.

[Book 4]

The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.

Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She’s determined to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore’s worst fears to rest—until disaster strikes.

The duke demands an annulment.

Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not give up her claim to the title—or him—without a fight.

She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon’s heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.

Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity—but her heart?

What did you think of the Duke and Duchess of Cosway?

Noa: Like you, I loved the introduction of Simeon at the end of Duchess by Night – it was just so perfect and I was furious that I couldn’t read When the Duke Returns as soon as I finished Duchess by Night!

When it came out, I wasn’t disappointed. Simeon is one of the only virgin heroes I’ve read about, and well, it was hilarious (in a good way). I loved that he wasn’t the usual type of Duke – he was Villers’ opposite in almost every way and yet – wonderful. Though I will say that there were a few times when his misguided outlook of what a wife should be made me want to strangle him.

Kitt: Yep, there is something to be said about virgin heroes! I’d actually love to see this angle explored and it’s such a shame more authors (that I’ve seen) aren’t taking this avenue…. but like you, I could of lived without Simeon’s mumbo jumbo…

Noa: The Cosways did have some great interactions, and their situation meant that even a small thing like pulling off a glove became extremely sensual. I believe their lovemaking scenes were some of the most realistic and funny scenes I have ever read. Well Done Eloisa James!

My only problem with this book? I once again felt like I was being pulled in two directions, with Jemma and Elijah’s storyline interfering on my time with Isidore and Simeon.

Kitt: *Nods* Totally agree! It’s hard to stay in the moment when you’re being shuffled back and forth…

Noa: I think that would probably be one of the most disappointing parts of the series for me, and it ended up ruining This Duchess of Mine, because by the time I got to this book, it was, in a way pretty obvious where we were headed. Jemma and Elijah’s story was almost complete by the time you got to their book so it felt like I was reading the final chapters in their saga rather than the whole story. I tried to look at it from the perspective of a reader who hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series, and I think that the reader would be completely lost.

I really wanted more from their book, and since the Beaumont’s were the main characters of the series, I was sure their book would “ignore” the series and “pretend” to be standalone. I felt slightly cheated and keep thinking that if all the chapters from the previous books that involved Jemma and Elijah were cut out and put in together with This Duchess of Mine, I would get the book I wanted.

[Book 5]

No man can resist Jemma’s sensuous allure . . . Except her own husband!

Wedding bells celebrating the arranged marriage between the lovely Duchess of Beaumont and her staid, imperturbable duke had scarcely fallen silent when a shocking discovery sent Jemma running from the ducal mansion. For the next nine years she cavorted abroad, creating one delicious scandal after another (if one is to believe the rumors).

Elijah, Duke of Beaumont, did believe those rumors.

But the handsome duke needs an heir, so he summons his seductive wife home. Jemma laughs at Elijah’s cool eyes and icy heart—but to her secret shock, she doesn’t share his feelings. In fact, she wants the impossible: her husband’s heart at her feet.

But what manner of seduction will make a man fall desperately in love . . . with his own wife?

Is it just me?

Kitt: I have to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because, unlike you, I got to read this whole series back to back. So while Jemma and Elijah’s story was still spread out, reading this entire series in a week helped make it seem more together.

As I mentioned, Jemma is my favorite heroine in this series. She’s a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants. Like you would expect, I did wait (im)patiently to reach This Duchess of Mine, but I was disappointed too, but for an entirely different reason. When it came down to the moment of truth to what Jemma would do about Elijah, her strength and independence failed her. There is no way that Jemma should of been the one to woo Elijah and make him fall in love with her. It should of been the other way around. It was Elijah that made a mess of their lives. It’s his fault they lost so much time together.

After my disappointment with Jemma from This Duchess of Mine, I was fortunate enough to go straight into the next and still have the best character in this series, Leopold – the Duke of Villiers, left in his book, A Duke of Her Own. Talk about your anti-hero. At the beginning of the series, he sets out to seduce Jemma (via a chess game)so you know right away this guy is a scoundrel. But throughout the series, you get to know him better and when it comes out that his six, yes six, bastard children were not being as well taken care of as he had thought, you almost expect this cynical and hard man not to even bat an eyelash, but he surprises you instead by making the right choice and tracking them all down.

The best part about this book for me, though, was that it was flat out hilarious. Eleanor’s sister says the most outrageous things but she’s also very astute and she makes Eleanor realize that she needs to shake things up, that she can’t keep pining for a married man. Then there’s Tobias, Villiers’ oldest son, who takes after his father very much. But you know, I don’t think there is a character in this book that doesn’t continuously give one laugh-out-loud moment after the other.

[Book 6]

A duke must choose wisely . . .

Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly—and his choices, alas, are few. The Duke of Montague’s daughter, Eleanor, is exquisitely beautiful and fiercely intelligent. Villiers betroths himself to her without further ado.

After all, no other woman really qualifies. Lisette, the outspoken daughter of the Duke of Gilner, cares nothing for clothing or decorum. She’s engaged to another man, and doesn’t give a fig for status or title. Half the ton believes Lisette mad—and Villiers is inclined to agree.

Torn between logic and passion, between intelligence and imagination, Villiers finds himself drawn to the very edge of impropriety. But it is not until he’s in a duel to the death, fighting for the reputation of the woman he loves, that Villiers finally realizes that the greatest risk may not be in the dueling field . . .

But in the bedroom. And the heart.

Enough about my thoughts, though, I know you loved both Eleanor and Leopold and are probably chomping at the bit to talk about them, so was A Duke of Her Own a pleasant surprise for you too?

Noa: Lol! *Chomps at bit*

Just one last thing before A Duke of Her Own – you know, thinking of This Duchess of Mine after your thoughts – I totally agree! Why did Jemma need to make Elijah realize that he loved her and needed only her? Why couldn’t it have been about HIM doing the wooing. I guess there are a few things Ms. James did in order to place Jemma in that position – 1. Elijah thinks he is out of chances, that Jemma would never truly forgive him, so he doesn’t even try. 2. His illness – if you think you don’t have much time left why create a situation that could cause heartbreak for the one you love?

But I too agree. I’m tired of our heroines having to do all the chasing. It would be nice for a hero to realize what he has in a woman before she runs away….which brings us to A Duke of Her Own.

I did love both Leopold and Eleanor and I think Eleanor was perfect for him – and visa versa. Her wit and humor worked perfectly with his attempts at cynicism. I loved their interactions (which we finally get enough of since there is no one else’s story to cover) and the chemistry was just there.

Like you, I also loved finding out that Villiers actually cares about his children and their well-being and Tobias was a gem. BUT I was a bit disappointed with our hero. He is supposedly an extremely clever and unconventional man but he couldn’t see through Lisette? I’m sorry, that was just annoying to me.

And when does he realize he was wrong? When someone else arrives to make him jealous and also, when the other option goes ooh-dillaly on him. Both Leopold and Eleanor were fun, sexy and wonderful characters. So why did Eleanor have to have her heart broken before he realized how perfect she was for him? Yes, he does after a while decide to make the grand gesture and romance her but it is such a short chapter and she says yes and all is well.

Eleanor’s tough exterior hides a woman who was told twice that she just wasn’t good enough – she deserved more.

All in all, I did love the book – the humor, supporting characters and the leads themselves were all wonderful but there was something that left me just a bit disappointed. Then again, the epilogue with Tobias as a young man sort of made me feel better.

So, final thoughts?

Kitt: Ha! I’m going to back up too real quick to answer your first “place Jemma in that position” because Ms. James does try to make it seem that way. Him not knowing, I call shenanigans! They actually discuss her wooing him before she starts – he knew – if that scene wasn’t in there, I probably would agree otherwise.

Back to A Duke of Her Own, I actually understand both sides, to what Eleanor feels – how she wishes someone would like her for her – and how Villiers sees the situation. He’s a Duke that’s following his own ideas (try telling a Duke he’s wrong! LOL ;)) of what he thinks his wife will need to be and by the time he realizes what’s been in front of his face the whole time, it’s too late. Villiers has come a long way since Desperate Duchesses and in the end I’m glad he found Eleanor – she’ll make him an even better man and he’ll her treat her like a queen. *sigh*

Now my final thoughts on Desperate Duchesses is – if you’re looking for something new and a little bit different with complex characters, sexy love stories, and entertaining drama then spend some time in Ms. James’ world.

And your verdict, my dear?

Noa: Well, I’ll agree with the *sigh* and say I’m quite jealous of Eleanor ;)

As for the series – My recommendation? Have all six books at the ready and like Kitt, read them as one book! I agree with you, it is new and different, it’s lighthearted and fun but with some lovely tear jerking moments we must have in romantic tales. By the time you finish the Desperate Duchesses series – you will, I think, have a smile on your face.


Avon has donated a signed copy of DESPERATE DUCHESSES and a signed copy of AN AFFAIR BEFORE CHRISTMAS, the first two novels in The Desperate Duchesses series, to ONE lucky commenter.

This contest will be international.

More ways to win:

+1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your comment.

Giveaway ends March 7th and the winner will be chosen by on March 8th. We ask the winners to post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out. Also, we will try to contact the winners, but we ask that you check back to see if you’ve won.

Books purchased by both Dolls.

Find Eloisa James:
Website| |
Kitt is an avid reader of Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Historical, Classics, Young Adult, and on the occasion she reads some Erotica to spice things up. Her entrance into the world of Paranormal started with Charlaine Harris's Stackhouse series. When not feeding her addiction she can be found slaving away cooking as a Sous Chef, watching movies and Anime, or out looking for trouble. She lives in Florida with her DB Deist and their two cats Salem and Dublin.
Doll KittNLuv
View all posts by Doll KittNLuv
Kitts website

One Comment »

  • June M. said…

    I love reading Eloisa James! I have read “When the Duke Returns” from this series and loved it. I want to get the who series b/c I know they will be wonderful b/c of the author.

    *posted on fb
    June M. in KY
    February 8, 2011 4:23 AM
    Day said…

    Fantastic review girls!
    February 8, 2011 4:29 AM
    booksNyarn said…

    Awesome review! Eloisa James is a terrific author and I gladly scoop up whatever she writes.
    February 8, 2011 4:36 AM
    debbie said…

    That was a great review. I would love to read these books.

    February 8, 2011 5:26 AM
    Reading mind said…

    what a good review!!!and the books sound awesome!

    aliasgirl at libero dot it
    February 8, 2011 6:08 AM
    throuthehaze said…

    Great review! I have never read anything by this author before so I would love to read these
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com
    February 8, 2011 10:04 AM
    jeanette8042 said…

    I haven’t read this series by Eloisa but your review makes me want to start it now! Thanks for the giveaway!

    February 8, 2011 10:06 AM
    Allison said…

    I loved your review of the series! This is a set of books I’ve meant to pick up countless times and haven’t yet got around to it, but your review is definitely spurring me on!

    allison.dayle at
    February 8, 2011 11:05 AM
    BLHmistress said…

    LOL what a great in site to another series that yes I just added to my out of control list. I have a Kiss at Midnight as my next to buy as well.

    February 8, 2011 11:14 AM
    June M. said…

    I really love the Essex sister series by Eloisa James. I have read 1 book in this series and really enjoyed it. I will have to get the others b/c I love her books.
    February 8, 2011 11:34 AM
    CLMcCune said…

    Thank you for the chance to win…want this! :)
    February 8, 2011 2:44 PM
    Shannon said…

    I’m always looking for a new series to begin. Very thorough review. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com
    February 8, 2011 3:32 PM
    Di said…

    I so enjoy Eloisa James books. I’ve got three of the books in this series, but don’t have Desperate Duchess and would love to win it!

    sallans d at yahoo dot com
    February 8, 2011 3:39 PM
    Robin K said…

    These books look fantastic. Please enter me.

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com
    February 8, 2011 4:54 PM
    JenM said…

    I haven’t tried any of these, so I’d love to win the first two books.

    jen at delux dot com
    February 8, 2011 9:29 PM
    June M. said…

    I love Eloisa’s Essex sister’s books. I re-read them when I don’t have anything new. I would love to win these (would be 2 I wouldn’t have to buy–lol).

    June in KY
    hmanning at bellsouth dot net
    February 8, 2011 9:42 PM
    June M. said…

    posted to fb

    June in KY
    hmanning at bellsouth dot net
    February 8, 2011 9:43 PM
    buddyt said…

    I have always enjoyed reading Eloisa James so I would be thrilled to get these two books.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    I am a Follower via GFC
    February 9, 2011 11:01 PM
    Sheree said…

    I love this series! however, I think I like Esme in Eloisa James’ last duchesses series than Gemma, just by a bit. Still, having my favorite cover model, Paul Marron, as Elijah on the stepback didn’t hurt. ;)

    February 10, 2011 12:21 AM
    Meredith said…

    I love having a whole series at the ready to plow straight through them! It’s only happened once or twice, but it’s fun!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

    GFC follower
    February 10, 2011 8:20 PM
    Bamafever said…

    Well once again Kitt and Noa ya’ll have greatly entertained us with your review. I can’t help it I love this style of reviewing ya’ll are doing. I will have to try these books out.
    February 11, 2011 10:42 PM
    Danielle Gorman said…

    Loving your review of this series. I really want to read this series.

    blog follower
    February 12, 2011 4:38 PM
    Asylumgirl said…

    I’ve not read these books but I’ve been thinking about going back to my roots of romance in the historical genre. I mostly read paranormal now. Sounds like a good time to refresh myself with some historical reading

    February 17, 2011 9:50 AM
    mbreakfield said…

    These books sound great and I love historical romances. Please enter me in the giveaway.
    February 22, 2011 7:53 AM
    ChrisS said…

    Thanks for the great review and giveaway.Historicals are my favorite genre and I would love the chance to read these.

    rjofus(at)gmail(dot)com /NJ
    February 24, 2011 5:58 AM
    LSUReader said…

    I just recently discovered Eloisa. I loved A Kiss Before Midnight and Storming the Castle. I haven’t yet read this series, but it looks good. Thanks for the review. (Email in profile.)
    February 24, 2011 1:04 PM
    -petit said…

    Eloisa is a known name to me, but I never read anything from her yet.

    I Tweeted:

    And I shared in FB:

    Thanks for the giveaway! :D

    February 24, 2011 4:05 PM
    Amy said…

    Eloise is a new author for me! I would love to read her books :)

    February 24, 2011 9:15 PM
    Stella (Ex Libris) said…

    I have to confess I’ve been having my eye on Eloisa’s novels in the élast couple of weeks (ever since I first heard of her), they look so yummy, would love to read them :-)

    Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

    +1 tweeted:

    +1 posted on Facebook:
    March 2, 2011 8:14 AM
    Aanchal @ Book Flame said…

    I love historical genre and these sound wonderful.Thank you for the giveaway!

    March 2, 2011 9:23 PM
    Anonymous said…

    Not read any by this author yet.
    Shared on facebook

    March 4, 2011 6:21 AM
    JerseyGirl22 said…

    Awesome giveaway! Thanks! I love historical romance.
    tweet :
    March 6, 2011 7:08 AM
    winnie said…

    Thanks for the review and giveaway! This sound like a wonderful series. Would love to give them a try.

    March 7, 2011 2:22 PM

    Reply to this comment »